Creative Partnerships: Continuing Aspire Work

  • Awarded to: Professor Anna Craft
  • Co-investigators: Dr Kerry Chappell
  • Funding Awarded to Exeter: £ 4,000
  • Dates: 29 January 2009 - 31 July 2009
  • Sponsor(s): A New Direction, Arts Council England

This initiative extended Aspire approaches (student led school transformation) into a London comprehensive school.  The research team of four from the CREATE research group, funded by A New Direction (Arts Council England), worked with six teachers and students, from January to July 2009.

  • Students and teachers have been trained as researchers, developing and exploring the research question ‘What are students learning in lessons?’  
  • Teachers and students, linked in co-mentor relationships, have been supported in developing learning conversations. Using tools and collaborative provocation and analytical processes from the University of Exeter Aspire programme to generate working principles for their data collection, they generated a framework to help focus what the student researchers documented during their classroom observations, and to guide how peer-mentors worked together both within the workshops and outside of them.

The data collected over a five month period was analysed using qualitative data analysis, producing headline findings to their research question which were clustered in relation to three key working principles:

We are finding out how we learn best by exploring new ways we might learn
Challenge more, less teacher control
Behaviour (how to behave in a messy environment, students learning to listen)
Personal development (express ideas creatively, expand self-confidence)
Layout of learning environment has an impact
Developing subject-specific skills
Students putting up with things they may not like/enjoy
Being challenged
Being rewarded
Workshops can be adapted to support lesson evaluation

We all suggest ideas, listen and try out
Community (students learn to voice their opinions, students learning to work as team)
Challenge more, less teacher control
Learning to co-operate with each other and the teacher
Body language speaks a thousand words

Everyone is equal in shaping / transforming
Being rewarded (talking to students during lesson ob)
Developing discipline and self-control (observation of good teacher)

Finally, the team moved toward a set of practical proposals for change in school:

  • Developing relationships between students and staff
  • Raising expectations and providing greater challenge

The research process undertaken at this school featured in presentations given by Professor Craft in a range of places at policy and practice levels, for example in Australia (for the Queensland Government) and London (for the Campaign for Learning), Singapore (for the National Institute of Education), Iceland (for European Year of Creativity) and USA (for CCSSO), as well as Local Authorities England (including Sutton and Wiltshire).